Segment Two: What is a Fossil?

This video segment introduces students to fossil preservation and the science of paleontology. The video begins when paleontologists in the South Dakota Badlands discover the skull of an Oreodont, an extinct mammal. Students learn about various types of fossil preservation and evidence for ancient life, including carbon traces of plants, dinosaur tracks, pyritized shells, amber preservation and mummification. Students observe paleontologists at Dinosaur National Monument exposing the bones of large dinosaurs. Students also watch Dr. Jim Jenson supervise the removal of giant bones from a quarry near Grand Junction, Colorado. Finally, students visit the Smithsonian’s laboratories, where a fossil is followed from its arrival in a crate to its preparation and assembly as a specimen ready for study or display.

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